Annual Report Overview, 2014-2015

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Welcome from Brian Vander Haak, Head of School[edit]

This school year has been a time of celebration as we reflected on CAJ's 65 years and prepare for an exciting future of continued service to Japan, CAJ families, and the missionary community. It has also been a time of transition as a number of long term staff retired or moved on from CAJ last year and will again this summer. We started a search for a new head of school last spring, and this past Fall the board hired Dr. Tom Norton to lead CAJ forward. It has personally been an honor and a privilege to serve at CAJ for the past 11 years including the past 7 as head of school. And this is not goodbye as my wife Bette and I will remain at CAJ to serve as we are called, though in a different role for me. Our school theme for 2015-16 is Love God; Serve Others with Matthew 22:37-40 as the theme text. There is no higher calling than to live lives focused on those four words, and serving at CAJ has given our family the opportunity to do just that. Thank you to everyone in this wonderful community for allowing me to serve you in response to the Love I have for our Lord Jesus Christ.

Your servant in Him,
Brian Vander Haak
Head of School

2014-15 Schoolwide highlights

  • After an extended discussion and prayerful reflection, the CAJ board adjusted our Mission Statement to better reflect our desired outcome of equipping students to serve Japan and the world for Christ. You can read more about the process here.
  • The CAJ board also appointed a committee to rewrite our Statement of Faith in more accessible and clear language. You can read about that process here.
  • CAJ had its mid-cycle accreditation visit by WASC (Western Association of Schools and Colleges) in March and the visiting team affirmed that our school improvement process is on course. Their report is available here.
  • We are nearing completion of an extended reworking of our hiring process based on best practices gleaned from other schools and consultants. Our new database interface will make the process easier for both the applicant and CAJ staff to fully and carefully process applications.
  • Our admission's process has been reviewed and the online resources are being aligned, translated, and will be in place for next years' admission team.
  • We began our new robotics program and will continue to grow the program next year.
  • We added a new classroom in what was formerly the last CAJ hostel. It was a much needed science classroom this year, and will be a much needed additional elementary classroom next year.

(photos on this page and in the opening slide show by digital photography students, Ushio Sawada, Rick Seely and others)

Welcome from Thomas Norton, Head of School (effective July 1, 2015)[edit]

One of the best places for hanami in Tokyo is right on our campus
Celebrating 65 years of God’s protection of and provision for CAJ this past year, has been a great joy for my wife and me. Coming back to be a member of the faculty fulfilled a goal that dates back to my junior year in high school at CAJ. Looking ahead to the next 65 years, may we as a community continue to grow in our faith, hope and love (1 Corinthians 13:13). May the Lord enable us to work together as one body to accomplish His purposes for our school in the coming year. Our newly revised mission statement will help keep our focus clear: “Equipping students to serve Japan and the world for Christ”. I ask you to join me in continuing to pray for, support and encourage our board, faculty and students in this mission to which Christ has called us.
May Jesus Christ be praised in and through all we do this next school year.


Elementary School[edit]

Students collaborate using a Chromebook laptop
Jean Hino - Elementary Principal
The school year began with the elementary staff discussing ways we are “Equipping students to impact the world for Christ.” The mission statement has been reworded but our mission has not changed. Recently the elementary staff shared ways they want to “Equip students to serve Japan and the world for Christ.” One staff member wrote to “Look for ways to be helpful at school, at home, at summer camp. Say ‘Can I help?’” The staff continually model and encourage students to ask, “Can I help?”

Presently there are 155 students in the elementary division. It has been a busy and productive year. During second semester 24 new students joined our division. We were able to begin a special, English intensive class for 9 upper elementary students. Mary Kitagawa, a former teacher was willing to jump in with these students for the last quarter of the year. The other students have warmly welcomed all of the new students and many people have stepped in to help make this class a possibility for just two and a half months.

The elementary division continues to take on new challenges with integrating technology and trying new technology. Our Mac laptops were replaced with Google Chromebooks. All of the students now have a variety of usernames and logins which they seem to handle with little difficulty. Students from third grade on up are using Google drive to write reports and create presentation. Each elementary student has their own blog that we are exploring as an online portfolio. The fourth and fifth graders are enjoying writing and commenting on their classmates writing. Parents of younger students are enjoying seeing their child’s work online. We will continue to expand our integration of technology in the coming year, especially with online portfolios.

It has been a pleasure to step in as interim elementary principal for this year. This has been a growing and learning time for me as well as the students and staff. I am looking forward to Jacquie Willson returning as elementary principal and I will return to head teacher along with various other responsibilities.

Middle School[edit]

Students wait their turn for the egg drop competition
Winnie Langelaar - Middle School Principal
This year’s theme, “rooted in tradition, growing in grace, seeking to serve” gave the Middle School opportunity to learn about the history of Christian Academy in Japan, learning to be gracious to our fellow students and finding opportunities to serve. This was also my second year as Middle School principal. Listening to the stories of how God provided for Christian Academy in Japan over the years has been a blessing.
This was our second year of implementing standards based reporting. We worked on some adjustments, such is defining the descriptors, reworking some of our rubrics and looking at the wording of the standards and learning targets after our implementation. We decided that the report card would only report on the standards for each of the subject areas instead of the learning targets. The parents will be able to still have access to the assessments of the learning targets with the online grades. I also gave a presentation to the parents explaining standards based reporting. It provided an opportunity to answer parent questions about what they were seeing when looking at their child’s online grades.
This year we were pleased to offer two new clubs for our afterschool activities in Middle School. Students could participate in hand bells or robotics. These two club activities followed the sport seasons, so they could switch to a sport or some other activity after a season was over. The hand bell group was able to participate in concerts at the end of the season to share what they learned. The students in robotics were able to learn how to put a robot together to be able to do certain tasks.
This school year we continued with our Homeless Outreach in January. Each of the homeroom classes took an early trip to Ikebukuro to pass out lunches to the homeless folks who were staying in the station. After all the homeroom classes had their turn, there was a group of grade seven students who requested to go on an additional trip. Each of the grades in Middle School continued to foster their relationship with our neighbor schools, Jiyugakuen Middle School, DainiShougakkou and GakugeidaiYougogakkou.
It is a joy to watch students grow and change each year. You can see the physical growth, but am also praying that what we are doing in our classes equips our students so they may serve Japan and the world for Christ.

High School[edit]

CAJ students interact with students in Thailand during the senior service trip
Anda Foxwell - High School Principal
We are nearing the end of yet another full and busy school year in high school at CAJ. As I write, many students are already undertaking Advanced Placement tests for 1 of the 16 tests we offer. We added AP Statistics and AP Economics this year, both popular choices with our students. We have expanded our Japanese program to offer Japanese Literature, allowing students already proficient in the Japanese language to continue to be challenged and to grow in their language skills.
Along with rigorous academics, we earnestly desire to see our students gain experience in achieving our school mission statement, becoming equipped to serve Japan and the world for Christ. Our community groups spent weeks planning projects led by students to reach out to our local community through acts of service. We commissioned students at a Good Friday service to serve as Christ did, then we sent students around the greater Higashi Kurume area to demonstrate love in action. Seniors successfully completed another building project in Northern Thailand, while building significant relationships with the local school children and with each other. The Junior class organized and implemented a carnival to raise money for Ebola treatment at the ELWA Hospital in Liberia.

Students continue to demonstrate a wide variety of talents, from the sports’ fields and gyms to the stage and concert hall, to classrooms, to outside our campus. Each of these provides opportunities for student leadership, and we try to intentionally emphasize the role of servant leadership in every activity in which students engage.

School Support Services[edit]

Stories Plus students pose with their visors
Flossie Epley - Director
We’re expanding. A number of SSS students have entered CAJ and others have returned to their homelands so are no longer in SSS. However, all throughout the year new families keep joining SSS so that our overall enrollment is increasing. At present we serve 97 families and 6 affiliated schools.
Last summer we added explanatory videos to the SSS website which made it easier for people to understand what we have to offer and how to make use of the services. Traditionally our reading incentive program has been for kids in elementary and younger. This year we added a Reading Genre Challenge for teenagers as well.
All our events were well attended and enthusiastically received. Unfortunately we’ve had to turn away kids who have wanted to join Homeschool Plus (classes geared towards elementary students) and Stories Plus (classes for preschoolers) for lack of space. SSS high school students immensely enjoyed Spiritual Life Emphasis Week in February. They got together twice with CAJ kindergarteners to read and write together. Spring is testing season. This year SSS staff gave achievement tests to SSS students on the CAJ campus, by Skype, and by traveling to Kansai and Ome.

Business Office[edit]

Mr. Seely and his camera are regularly seen around campus
Rick Seely - Business Manager
Christian Academy in Japan is blessed with great facilities, growing enrollment, generous volunteers, and excellent academic, fine arts, sports, and music programs. I am grateful for the significant commitment families make to send their children to CAJ. We are striving to make this a better place for your students, our staff, and the greater CAJ community.

On March 31, 2015 we completed our second year as a Gakkou Houjin (School Corporation).

Annual Audit Report[edit]

Each year we are required by board policy to report the results of an external audit to the CAJ community. CAJ's Board of Directors and Board of Councilors have approved the 2014-2015 school year’s audit in which our auditor states:

"In our opinion, the financial statements referred to above, present fairly in all material respects, the financial position of Gakkou Houjin Christian Academy in Japan as of March 31, 2015 and the results of its operations and cash flows for the years then ended in conformity with the accounting standard of an incorporated educational institution."

CAJ's boards have reviewed the audit report and have accepted last year's results showing operating revenues of ¥738,630,367 and operating expenses of ¥701,656,247. This results in a net operating surplus of ¥36,974,120.


Pauline Carlson - Board Chair

The 2014-2015 Board of Directors and Auditors
CAJ’s board of directors began the school year with a multi-day training, retreat and board meeting in Chiba. In 2013-14 several members of CAJ's board travelled to Taiwan for a conference with other missionary schools (defined narrowly for this conference as having missionary controlled boards) hosted by Morrison Academy of Taiwan. Some have said that CAJ is more like Morrison than any other school in the world. Because of that strong connection, CAJ invited the board and leadership of Morrison to join them for training and interaction in Japan. Time was spent in fellowship, in sharing common challenges and solutions, and in identifying our blessings. An entire day was spent in training focused on future trends in education facilitated by our head of school, Brian. Another day was spent meeting seperately to conduct our regular board meetings. Next year many of our board members will be attending another multi-school board conference in Malaysia. CAJ’s board is committed to ongoing training in quality governance, and to community building with other missionary schools in Asia and around the world.
One of the major board responsibilities under policy governance is to hire and supervise the head of school. The board has announced that Dr. Tom Norton will be our head of school starting on July 1, 2015. The search process was thorough and involved a significant time investment by the board and the search committee. The board is also working on ensuring a smooth leadership transition. The board is looking forward to working with Tom while we work together to achieve our stated mission of equipping students to serve Japan and world for Christ.
This year the board also presented to the community a revised Statement of Faith and Mission Statement. You can read more about the process in the head of school blog: Mission Statement | Statement of Faith. CAJ's board is committed to proactive governance that embraces the school’s objectives of being rooted in tradition, while we grow in grace and seek to serve. God has richly blessed CAJ over our 65 years of history, and the board is working to faithfully and prayerfully do its part in preparing for the next 65 years.